The Orthodox Church is the second largest Christian denomination in the world, with an estimated 300 million adherents mainly in the countries of Belarus, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Russia, Serbia, and Ukraine, all of which are majority Eastern Orthodox.
The Eastern Orthodox Church was founded on the Day of Pentecost in 33 A.D. The formal name of the Church is, The One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church. This phrase shares with us the basis of the faith.
One means that the Church is one because God is one. “There is one body and one spirit…one hope…one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all.” Ephesians 4:4-6.
Holy, the Church is holy because our Lord made her so. ‘Christ also loved the Church, and gave Himself for it; that He might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of the water by the word, that He might present it to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that it should be holy without blemish.’ Ephesians 5:25-27.
Catholic, the Church is Catholic or universal, because the wholeness of the faith of Christ has preserved that which has been passed down from Christ to the Apostles. ‘Faith, which was once delivered to the Saints.’ Jude 1:3
Finally, the Church is Apostolic as it teaches what the Apostles taught and it traces her existence directly to the Apostles.
THE PERSON OF JESUS CHRIST
The Orthodox Church teaches that Jesus Christ is Lord. Romans 10:9. That He was born of a Virgin, and died on the Cross-for the salvation of humanity. The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the living proof that He is God and the source of salvation. ‘You shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.’ Matthew 1:21. Jesus Christ is the cornerstone of the Eastern Orthodox Church.
THE HOLY TRINITY
The Holy Trinity plays an active role in the Life of the Church. One will hear countless times the invocation of the Trinity as a form of supplication, adoration, confession, and praise. In the Holy Trinity we see three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Three distinct persons but one substance… God. Even though the word Trinity is not found in the Scripture we see many references to its presence.
For example, at the Baptism of our Lord, the Holy Trinity was made manifest through the voice of the Father, the presence of Christ, and the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove.
Our Lord in the Great Commission, prior to His Ascension, gave the command, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.
The Church father Irenaus, spoke on the Trinity as, “God the Father stretching His two arms out in love, one arm is Jesus Christ, the other arm is the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Holy Trinity reveals to us God above us, God beside us, and God within us.”
WORSHIP IN THE ORTHODOX CHURCH
The central focus of worship in the Greek Orthodox Church is found in the celebration of the Divine Liturgy. The word liturgy means a common action, thus, we have a holy action which all, priest and laity offer unto God.
The entire focus of the Divine Liturgy is centered around the celebration of the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. Through the power of the Life giving Holy Spirit, the common elements of bread and wine are transformed into the actual Body and Blood of Jesus Christ. It is through the partaking of Holy Communion we are yoked together with the Savior Jesus Christ. For our Lord said, “For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him.” John. 6:55-56
The Sacraments of the Church are divine rites instituted by Jesus Christ or Apostles where we experience personal encounters with our Lord. Through these Sacraments God shares with us His life and redeems us from the curse of sin and inaugurates us into His Kingdom. The Church recognizes the following sacraments: Baptism, Chrismation or Confirmation, Holy Communion, Confession, Ordination, Marriage, and Unction.
THE CHURCH STRUCTURE
Every Orthodox Church is divided into three sections, the Narthex, Nave, and Altar. The Narthex is the lobby of the church. It is an area where the worshipper comes and refocuses from the natural world to the spiritual world. Upon entering into the Narthex, the Orthodox Christian lights a candle and offers a prayer that Christ will illumine the path on which we should follow. Then after venerating the icon enters into the Nave.
The Nave is the large area where the congregation gathers for worship.
And finally, the Altar, which is reserved for the clergy, is where the priest leads the congregation in prayer.
The Icons play a significant role in the life of the Orthodox Church.
Icons serve a three-fold purpose: 1) to create reverence for worship; 2) to instruct those who are unable to read; 3) to serve as an existential link between the worshipper and God. The Icons have been referred to as the Bible in living color displaying the acts and the life of Jesus Christ. They also portray the men and women who gave their lives for the sake of the Gospel. Just as we have portraits and paintings of our loved ones in our homes, the Icons display the loved ones of the Church.
The Holy Bible plays a significant role in the life of the Orthodox Faith. The Scriptures are the primary source of worship, inspiration, history, and authority in the Church. The Bible is the record of truth about God, Jesus, Mary, the Prophets, and the Disciples. It has been referred to as man’s blueprint for living giving us the tools needed to move toward our salvation. St. John writing on the Scriptures revealed; “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31.
Salvation in the Orthodox Church is obtained through the Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Through baptism we experience the saving power of God. The Orthodox Church believes that salvation is a daily process through the repentance of our sins and the cognizant walk with Jesus Christ. St. Paul reminds us: “To work out your salvation with fear and trembling Philippians. 2:12.
PLEASE VISIT US
Our worship service, The Divine Liturgy, begins at 10:00 am every Sunday. We would be most honored with your presence and prayers.